Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

In my eternal quest for awesome homemade salad dressings, I whipped up a batch of Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette, courtesy of my fave veg chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This one comes from her Appetite for Reduction cookbook.

It’s a tangy, toasty dressing that tastes a bit heavier than a standard vinaigrette, but in a good way. My ranch-obsessed brain thinks it would be even better jazzed into a creamy dressing of some sort. I’ll get to work on that.

Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

Lucky for you, the recipe is available via Google’s book preview:

Appetite for Reduction – page 21 – Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

Enjoy!

My Fave Soup

Why is it that the best soups always seem to be a pain in the arse to make? Not so in this case, cowboy!

(Cowboy? What?)

This soup has nothing to do with cowboys. It’s hearty enough for a cowboy, though.

Really. I’m not kidding. Yes, it’s a veggie soup. Yes, it’s hearty. Bonus: it’s vegan! And it is incredibly easy to make.

First up: saute some garlic and leeks and/or onions in a little olive oil.

Saute garlic and leeks/onions.

Next, add broccoli, rolled oats (the original kind, not the instant kind), soy milk, and dill. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Broccoli soup in progress

Add salt and pepper to taste, then puree with an immersion blender. Voila!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

So filling. So good.

This recipe works great with asparagus, too. I suspect it would be great with any soup-happy vegetable. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a food processor or blender works too – just let the soup cool a bit before you process it, and make sure to have the steam vent open while blending.

Enjoy a soup-er meal!

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 leek, chopped and 1 small onion, chopped
  • OR
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 6 cups broccoli (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Saute garlic and onions and/or leeks over medium heat in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add broccoli, soy milk, oats, and dill. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Puree with an immersion blender.

4. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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The Super Bowl – Remember That?

This is a recipe I made for the Super Bowl party I hosted this year.

Yes, I realize the Super Bowl was 2 months ago.

It’s a recipe for a hot artichoke and goat cheese dip.

Yes, I realize it is not vegan. Allow me to digress a bit to explain why you’ll be seeing some vegetarian (but not vegan) recipes for a little bit here.

The Super Bowl kicked off not long after a harsh diagnosis of cancer for my best kitty buddy, Goose. He’d been sick for a couple months at that point, and would die 6 weeks later. (Sorry to harsh your mellow… it definitely harshed mine). The daily medical care and feeding (and eventually, the loss of my buddy) have taken their toll on me emotionally. Dairy (and believe it or not, eggs) have found their way back into my diet… for now. I’m sorry, my cow and hen friends. I can only take so much. So things will be vegetarian around here for a little while, at least.

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

This dip is an attempt at a recreation of a fantastic rendition from Mas Tapas restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s not spot-on; I suspect theirs might actually be healthier than this one. But I won’t lie – I ate the leftovers of this dip every day for a week!

If you’d have told me I’d like goat cheese, I’d have told you you’re crazy. Turns out, it’s pretty darn tasty.

Hot Artichoke & Goat Cheese Dip

by Shelly

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer vegetarian artichoke goat cheese

Ingredients (12 servings)

  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayo
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, softened

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In food processor, combine onions, garlic, mayo, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and goat cheese.

3. Blend, and slowly add in the artichoke hearts (to leave some texture).

4. Spoon into a casserole dish.

5. Bake dip uncovered for 30 minutes.

6. Serve hot with bread, crackers, bruschetta, tortilla chips, or veggies.

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Pesto Veggie Lasagna

This might be my favorite lasagna ever – and it’s vegan! I know – I’ve been making a lot of “best ever” claims lately, but I’ve really been on a roll in the kitchen. While this recipe is a little bit labor intensive, it’s easy labor – and the end result is beyond worth it.

I made this dish for my family’s Christmas get together in Chicago last week (though it was just vegetarian for them and not vegan, as I couldn’t find Daiya on short notice Christmas eve). It almost didn’t happen; do you have any idea how hard it is to find lasagna noodles at 4pm on Christmas Eve? We had to go to 2 stores, and I got the very last package on the shelf at store #2 (thank you, Target!) It was well worth the search. This lasagna got thumbs-up reviews from even the meat eaters, and I enjoyed it so much that I made it again at home for New Years.

This recipe makes a 9×13″ dish of lasagna – good for 8 serious servings (which in my case means, a freezer full of lasagna!) For the record, it does freeze and reheat very well. If you plan to go that route, let it cool down a bit then portion it out into freezer-safe containers and freeze. You can also make this a day ahead of time and refrigerate it prior to baking, then toss it in the oven when it’s time to make dinner. Just add 5-10 minutes if you’re starting with cold lasagna.

Without further ado, my favorite lasagna recipe of all times:

Pesto Veggie Lasagna

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 30

Cook Time: 35

Ingredients (8 servings)

Lasagna

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (12+ noodles – no-boil are fine)
  • 1 cup pesto – see recipe below
  • 5 – 6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
  • 5 cups grilled or sautéed veggies – choose from zucchini, eggplant, red or green bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, broccoli, or your favorites. My favorite mix: 1 red pepper – diced, 1 zucchini – cut into half moons, and 1 head of broccoli florets.
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 lb or 1 – 14oz package herbed tofu, firm or extra firm (Italian herbed tofu works great here), pressed and crumbled
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced (8 slices)
  • 1 package (8 oz) Daiya mozzarella or other vegan shredded cheese
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara

Pesto

  • 1/4 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (or, replace with additional 1/4 cup walnuts)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, scant
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

This first step is optional, but highly recommended. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet (such as a cast iron skillet) over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts to the dry skillet and toast for 5 minutes, tossing often. Then add the pine nuts and toast an additional 5 minutes. (If using all walnuts, add them all at the start and toast for 10 minutes).

Set toasted nuts aside to cool.

Prep the Veggies

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.

As you chop up the rest of your veggies, add them to the pan, stirring often. If the pan dries out, add a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the pan and keep on saute-ing.

Continue to saute the veggies while preparing the pesto.

Prep the Pesto

Add the toasted nuts to a food processor.

Add the minced garlic, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast until the basil leaves are well blended, scraping down the sides of the food processor as necessary.

Slowly stream in the olive oil and process until well combined.

Blend in the lemon juice.

Assemble the Lasagna

In a 13×19″ dish, coat the bottom of the dish with a layer of marinara.

Place one layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom of the dish.

Layer more marinara on top of the noodles.

Then, add the baby spinach over the noodles.

Crumble the tofu on top of the spinach.

Sprinkle a layer of shredded Daiya over the tofu, then add a second layer of noodles.

Coat the noodles with another marinara layer.

Add the veggies to the next layer and top with a generous layer of pesto.

Add the last layer of noodles and coat with remaining marinara.

Add the rest of the shredded cheese. Place 8 dollops of pesto across the top, and add a tomato slice onto each dollop of pesto.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F, until the lasagna is warmed through and the cheese is melted.

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Going Green

So, it’s been about 2 weeks since I ran my last half marathon. That race was the culmination of a whole lot of chaos in my life: moving cross-country, starting a new (and thankfully awesome!) job, going to school for my MFA full time (12 credit hours, yikes!), and of course – another round of long-race training. Needless to say, upon completion of that race, I needed a break – so I took one. I took a break from running, and indulged in some holiday goodies in the form of way too much chocolate and pizza.

The result: I caught my first sickness in 2 years (ugh – still fighting it off), gained 5 pounds, and felt like absolute crap!

While I’m glad I took a break from all things healthy (I needed it mentally more than anything – I’ve been going at this healthy lifestyle thing for 2 years now!), it definitely demonstrated that feeling good is so much more enjoyable than eating junk food. I couldn’t wait till the new year to get back to eating right, so I started the day I got home from the holidays. I started yesterday. (The exercise is going to have to wait until I stop hacking up lungs).

Since my pre-planned junk food binge was pretty extreme (at least relatively speaking), I decided to embark upon a similarly relatively extreme detox: 5 days of only fruits and veggies.

I considered a juice fast, a la Jason Vale (the JuiceMaster), but decided I’d have a much more enjoyable experience with something like Reboot Your Life (a la Joe Cross, the guy that made the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead). I like Jason’s juice recipes more, though, so I’m basically drinking Jason’s juices and eating fruits and veggies as described in Joe’s Reboot Entry program.

So far, so good! I’m on day 2 of 5.

The first day, I was starving… All. The. Time. I was also pretty dehydrated from a week of holiday madness (and wine, ahem), and dehydration feels a lot like hunger, so I probably wasn’t actually hungry for food. Still, I felt like I went to bed hungry (booo).

Ironically, though, when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t hungry at all. I felt good (well, except for this plague of a cold I caught in Chicago over Christmas). I haven’t felt hungry today, and – knock on wood – my body seems to be fighting off this cold.

My basic plan is to:

  • drink juice concoctions and smoothies made with my Breville juicer (including a Vega protein shake each day).
  • eat fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries), green soups, and green salads.
  • drink lots of water and some tea.

Now, that does mean I’m also eating salad dressing. Sorry – I can’t live without my daily giant bowl of greens, and to that end, I can’t live without salad dressing. I also used a dab of olive oil to saute the veggies I used in today’s soup recipe (below). But those are the only non-whole-foods, non-fruit-or-veggie things I’m eating for these 5 days.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to busting out that loaf of bread I baked last week or mashing together a great new veggie burger recipe… but that day will come soon enough, and I’m already feeling the positive effects of this junk food detox. Ahhh, to feel normal again!

In the spirit of going green, here’s the recipe for the soup I had for lunch! Super tasty. I love kale!

Green Veggie Soup

by Shelly

Prep Time: 10

Cook Time: 30

Keywords: soup/stew kale broccoli zucchini garlic

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head broccoli florets
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 4 leaves basil, plus 3 tbsp chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 6 cups water

Instructions

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.

Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add broccoli, basil leaves, zucchini, spinach, salt, and pepper.

Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.

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Christmas Trees!

Alien Cauliflower

I am convinced. Aliens walk amongst us.

I mean, have you SEEN this thing?

Romanesco Cauliflower

Romanesco Cauliflower

It’s the Christmas Tree Broccoli!

I first encountered this wonder if the form of a locally grown version while dining at the Local Chop & Grill House. It was delicious, and I’d never seen or eaten it before. I promptly forgot the name of the veggie, until I saw it today at the Friendly City Food Co-Op (and, it’s locally grown!). (BTW, juicing is expensive!! I’m going through produce like crazy, and that’s with only drinking 16 oz of juice per day!).

I just had to pick one up… not to juice, but to eat!

This thing was a blast to chop up. I tried so hard to maintain the cute little Christmas trees! It turns out, this thing isn’t broccoli. (Well, some countries call it broccoli, and there are cauliflower-broccoli hybrids out there that are similar, but this wackadoodle is a species of its own. In the US, we typically call it Romanesco Cauliflower. It chops up similarly to cauliflower, but it tastes more like broccoli.

Chopping the Romanesco Cauliflower

Chopping the Romanesco Cauliflower

Now, personally, I’m not a huge broccoli fan (though I do eat it once a week or so), and I really don’t like cauliflower (even though I keep buying it anyway and then either tossing it because it goes bad before I convince myself to eat it, or I end up not liking whatever recipe I use it in). Is it just me, cauliflower-dislikers, or does it just look like it has so much potential?

But this Romanesco Cauliflower – it tastes more like a mild broccoli, and it’s really, really good! (It’s also gorgeous and funny looking and quite amusing to eat Christmas Trees).

The internet told me that this delicious little weirdo was best prepared either steamed or briefly boiled. One site suggested 2 minutes in boiling water, followed by a brief stir fry in a seasoned oil mix. I went that route, but tossed it in a quickie vegan garlic cream sauce instead (1/4 cup soy milk, 2 Tbsp nooch, a few cloves of garlic, a Tbsp or so of Earth Balance, and 1/2 tsp of basil).

Christmas Trees!

Christmas Trees!

I had a bag of Shirataki tofu noodles in the fridge that needed to be eaten…

Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki Noodles

… so I served the Christmas Trees atop those, with some leftover Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters on the side.

Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters and Romanesco Cauliflower in Vegan Garlic Sauce with Shirataki Noodles

Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters and Romanesco Cauliflower in Vegan Garlic Sauce with Shirataki Noodles

Wonderful dinner! Fantastic vegetable! I hope it sticks around so I can enjoy the Romanesco Cauliflower a few times before it goes out of season.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Classic Pesto a la Vegan With A Vengeance

The Magic of Pesto

I’ve gone on and on about pesto here on this blog. Ever since I discovered it earlier this year, I’ve been obsessed. It is the star of one of my favorite all-time sandwiches (the veggie pesto panini), and I’ve been known to blob it onto pasta and salads as well. I have even used it as pizza sauce. So good!

In honor of Vegan MoFo, I’ve decided to give my love – pesto – its due diligence. The recipe I use is from the world’s vegan punk rock sweetheart, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, in her cook book Vegan With A Vengeance. You can view the recipe on Google Books, page 132 – Classic Pesto.

Look at that gorgeous basil!

Look at that gorgeous basil!

I make a couple modifications to the recipe. First, I only use 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil instead of 1/2 cup; I use 1/4 cup water for the other part. Next, I mix up the nuts. Sometimes I use walnuts as recommended, but often, I’ll use cashews instead, or mix the two. I’ve also been known to throw some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in there. Lastly, I always use the nutritional yeast (marked as optional in Isa’s recipe). Note that there aren’t any pine nuts in the recipe. It’s nice and easy on the wallet! I don’t miss them one bit.

Pesto in the Food Processor

Pesto in the Food Processor

I’ve never made a batch of this pesto that I didn’t love. It comes together super-quickly and the flavor is out of this world.

Classic Pesto a la Vegan With A Vengeance

Classic Pesto a la Vegan With A Vengeance

Chickpea cutlet sandwich with creamy garlic

Sandwich Experimentation

I’m the happiest foodie version of myself when eating with my hands. I love sandwiches and finger-foods. After an accidentally awesome sandwich creation a couple weeks ago, I vowed to recreate my favorite pizza joint take-out sandwich: the Chicken Club from Nancy’s Pizza.

Last night, I attempted my first batch of the secret ingredient: the creamy garlic dressing.

Now, I don’t have the slightest idea of the ingredient list of the original dressing on this sandwich – so I’m just going to have to wing it by flavor!

After digging through my vegan cookbook collection and coming up empty, I searched the interwebs for a vegan creamy garlic dressing. My first attempt used this recipe, supposedly from the Chicago Diner (meat-free since ’83!). It turned out much too bland. I added some additional garlic, some fresh basil, and a sprinkle of Garlic Gold (the Italian herb blend) – and while that did make it quite tasty, it’s not quite there. Also, the consistency is much too thin.

Still, that didn’t prevent me from trying the dressing on a sandwich! I made up another batch of Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon (and had a total cutlet fail – forgot half of the seasonings. Funny, they still turned out alright – since I’m smothering them in dressing anyway).

Behold: phase one of my quest to veganize the Chicken Club sandwich from Nancy’s:

Chickpea cutlet sandwich with creamy ranchYeah, it’s not much of a club sandwich – I was too tired to make tempeh bacon. This was really just an attempt to get the dressing right, after which point I’ll proceed with the rest of the sandwich. But boy – it sure is a delicious process 🙂

I think my next attempt at the dressing will use silken tofu, similar to Isa’s Sanctuary Dressing recipe (which I am still enjoying almost daily!)

(There’s some Daiya mozzarella on there too). Kale chips and a ring of fresh pineapple on the side. Nom!